Tissue Banking and Radiation Technology
International initiatives help strengthen educational and technical infrastructure
WorldAtom Staff Report
For millions of severely burned, injured and disabled people around the world, tissue grafting or transplantation opens an opportunity for a new quality of life. The process relies on the use of sterilized bone, skin, and other tissues to heal serious injuries and wounds.
For years, the IAEA has worked with key international organizations to help bring tissue banking technology to where it is most needed. Its radiation and tissue banking programme bring experts together, and is an effective avenue for channeling help to national health authorities in establishing tissue banks, training associated staff, and developing standards and regulatory guides.
A series of cooperative initiatives between the IAEA and other international institutions will further seek to strengthen such technology exchange, develop educational programmes in tissue banking, and harmonize standards and guidelines.
On Monday, 13 May 2002, Mr. Bruce Stroever and Ms. Martha Anderson President and Vice-president of the Musculo-skeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) in the USA signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the IAEA formalizing a joint initiative to promote professional and public education. Under the project. MTF will spearhead the training of surgeons in the use of tissue transplants at its medical facilities in the USA, and will provide expert services to a selected group of tissue banks in the developing world. The IAEA will coordinate provision of the radiation technology for sterilization of tissues. The contribution of MTF to the programme in kind and in cash is around US$ 90 000.
Another MOU covering strategic partnership between Singapore National University and the IAEA is expected to be signed before 31 May 2002. The partnership calls for the establishment of an International Training Center for Global Internet Delivery of Training of Tissue Bank Operators using curriculum established by the IAEA and National University of Singapore (NUS). The IAEA/NUS curriculum, available in English, Korean and Spanish, is a unique vehicle for training tissue bank operators, managers and doctors worldwide. Singapore contributed 250,000 Singapore dollars to the preparation of the curriculum. The Republic of Korea contributed $45,000 for translation into Korean.
The IAEA is also starting negotiations with Argentina for an MOU on the establishment of a Regional Training Center for Training Tissue Bank Operators for the Latin America region. The University of Buenos Aires in Argentina will play a comparable role to the University of Singapore, as a regional training centre covering the Latin America region.
The University Diploma extends over one year and is the first such diploma available anywhere in the world. So far, 296 tissue bank operators, managers and doctors have been trained under the IAEA programme, with 65 trainees attaining the University Diploma from the University of Singapore and 16 from the University of Buenos Aires.
Maintaining the highest standards
To ensure maintenance of the highest international standards, the IAEA is forming partnerships with major international professional associations engaged in tissue banking. A Technical Advisory Committee has already been established. This committee is composed of representatives from all the Professional Associations of Tissue Banks, World Health Organization, MTF and the IAEA, and includes the Directors of international, regional and national training centers in various parts of the world. A Steering Committee from within the IAEA will monitor overall implementation of the radiation and tissue banking programme.
Other initiatives in this area include the preparation of documents and guidelines, including a set of international standards for tissue banks, an international code of practice for the radiation sterilization of biological tissues and a handbook on public awareness.
Measuring the impact
The IAEA programme on tissue banking was initiated over a decade ago, and today extends to 30 countries. As experience has been gained through the IAEA programme, the growth and output of of tissue banks have been exponential. Up to the year 2001, the programme has helped to produce 222, 580 tissue grafts with a value of $US51.8 million.
Through the programme, countries have realized huge savings in tissue importation costs, surgeons in developing countries learn new grafting methods, injured patients get better health care and lives are saved.